Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 (VMFA(AW)-224) is a United States Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet squadron. Also known as the "Fighting Bengals", the squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 31 (MAG-31) and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (2nd MAW).
Attack and destroy surface targets, day or night, under the weather; conduct multi-sensor imagery reconnaissance; provide supporting arms coordination; and intercept and destroy enemy aircraft under all-weather conditions.
After Guadalcanal, the squadron was refitted with the Vought F4U Corsair and participated in the Marshall Islands Campaign. The spring of 1945 found VMF-224 participating in the last great battle of the Pacific Campaign. During the Battle of Okinawa the squadron operated for the duration of the campaign from the newly captured airfield at Yomitan. Throughout the struggle for Okinawa, the Bengals flew infantry support and counter air missions accounting for an additional fifty-five enemy aircraft being destroyed.
The squadron entered the jet era in 1951 with the acceptance of the F2H-2 Banshee. In 1952, after completing a Mediterranean Cruise aboard the USS Roosevelt, the squadron accepted the Grumman F9F Panther, and was re-designated Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 224.
In September 1956, the squadron became the first Marine unit to field the A4D Skyhawk aircraft. In 1965, the Bengals entered the Vietnam War. For nearly a year the Bengals operated their “Scooters” from the expeditionary field at Chu Lai. On November 1, 1966, the squadron acquired the Grumman A-6 Intruder and was re-designated as Marine All Weather Attack Squadron (VMA(AW)) 224. In 1971, the Bengals deployed to the South China Sea aboard the USS Coral Sea. As part of Carrier Air Wing 15, the squadron completed six line periods on Yankee Station and participated in numerous operations including the historic mining of Hai Phong Harbor.
The Bengals deployed to Southwest Asia, on August 28, 1990. Operating from Shaikh-Isa Air Base, Bahrain the squadron participated in Operation Desert Shield. From January 16, to February 28, 1991, the Bengals participated in Operation Desert Storm, expending more than 2.3 million pounds of ordnance during 422 combat sorties.
Shortly after their return to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, on May 24, 1992, the Bengals celebrated their 50th anniversary. Less than a year later on March 5, 1993, the squadron was re-designated VMFA(AW)-224 and moved to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina where the Bengals received the multi-mission F/A-18D Hornet.
From April to September 1994 the Bengals deployed to Aviano, Italy, as part of the United Nations force for Operation Deny Flight and Operation Provide Promise in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The squadron flew 1150 sorties for 3485 flight hours including 1150 night hours. The Marines of VMFA(AW)-224 again deployed to Aviano, Italy in September 1995, as part of NATO Operation Deliberate Force and Operation Joint Endeavor.